What inspires you to take matters into your own hands and do it yourself? It could be something as simple as a bet from a naysayer, boredom, an effort to save money, a personal challenge to further your skills, or all of the above, in some cases. Whatever the motivation may be, do-it-yourselfers have a compelling need to advance their automotive abilities.
Earl Newth of Henry, Virginia, spent 30 years as an orthotist making intricate orthopedic braces, but he always managed to find the time to play with cars while away from his work. Throughout his medical career he built and owned plenty of nice old cars and trucks, but he was always fascinated by the quality of the vehicles he read about in the magazines he constantly pored over.
Well, in 2001, with an issue of CLASSIC TRUCKS in hand, he was finally inspired to leave the medical field and open his own auto customization business at the age of 53. Starting your own small business might be the ultimate do-it-yourself accomplishment, especially when its livelihood relies on the hourly rate generated by your own two hands. Even though the odds are stacked against any new small business, Earl's Place made it past its first birthday with a growing client roster, but the one-man operation wasn't out of the woods yet.
It wasn't until five years later that Earl felt like he'd produced a vehicle worthy of a magazine feature, which, after all, was his initial inspiration for opening Earl's Place to begin with. In '06, Bobby Tatem brought his rare '60 DeSoto D-100 truck to Earl for the whole shebang, so to speak. There never were too many '58-60 Dodge trucks around even when they were new, and the DeSotos were Dodge's export model for Canada, Mexico, and South America, which sold with even fewer numbers than their American counterparts. This fact made Bobby's truck quite unusual, but also extremely hard to find parts for, especially the few pieces that differed from the Dodge models, so the decision was made to transform the DeSoto into a nice yet useful truck Bobby would be able to drive comfortably.
Earl soon started melding the '60 with a '99 Dodge Dakota in an effort to keep the truck's Mopar heritage, albeit late-model. Since the DeSoto was so rusty, Earl cut the cab from its floor and firewall, and after severing the Dakota in the same spots, he grafted the DeSoto to the Dakota's lower tin and complete chassis and swapped beds. The DeSoto's cab fit surprisingly well on the Dakota platform, and Earl would even be able to retain the dash from the '99 that sat quite snug between the curved front windshield without any modification.